Reserve police program axed in Franklin Twp.

By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

In an effort to save money in Franklin Township, the trustees authorized ending the Reserve Officer Program.

The program, which has been going on for a number of years, allows reserve officers to patrol the township. After the officers go through a training process and a year of shadowing other full-time officers, they are allowed to patrol the township on their own.

“We have decided to end the reserve program at this time,” said trustee Don Cook at a recent board meeting. “Even though these officers are donating their time, it is still costing the township money. Right now we need to cut expenses anywhere we can.”

According to Cook, the program costs the township about $4,800 a year and opens them up to potential future expenses.

“What Don (Cook) was alluding to was the cost of liability for having auxiliary officers,” said John Fleshman, trustee. “If one of these auxiliary officers gets hurt on duty, we are liable for their lost wages.”

The township trustees also cited the cost for equipment for the auxiliary officers, saying that was another unnecessary expense. Prior to the ending of the program, the township had anywhere from three to four active reserve officers patrolling the township.

The trustees recently approved the lay off of four township police officers as a result of financial issues within the police department. The eight-person department now only has four police officers and Chief Allan Wheeler.

“I know the union was not happy with us using auxiliary officers when we just laid off four police officers,” Fleshman said. “They were concerned that we were laying off officers and using volunteers instead.”

Township residents were confused as to why the township was ending the program and some expressed concerns as to why the township would get rid of free help when they are so short staffed.

As a result of the layoffs, the township police will only be on duty one shift each day. All other shifts will be covered by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and non-emergency calls will not be answered until the township police are on duty.

“In my opinion, anytime you have less officers on duty it is dangerous,” Fleshman said. “However right now, we need to work on improving our financial situation so we can bring back all our officers and restart this program. Until then we will just have to make due.”

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